MANILA (August 19, 2022) – Sen. Edward J. Markey (D.M.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee, John Garamendi (CA-03), Don Beyer (VA) -08), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (AS) completed the Philippine congressional delegation’s trip to Asia. The visit to the Philippines was Sen. Markey’s first since taking office. no visitation Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s outspoken stance condemning human rights abuses comes from the former government.
During the visit, the delegation met with U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Heather Valiaba and other U.S. Embassy officials to discuss relations between the United States and the Philippines. The group also met with Shantale Wong, US President of the Asian Development Bank, to discuss the bank’s activities in the region.
On Thursday, the delegation became the first US congressional delegation to meet with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. since he took office on June 30 of this year. During the meeting, the delegation reaffirmed the important alliance relationship between the two countries and discussed regional security challenges. Members also discussed ways to support the Philippines’ transition to renewable energy and address the climate crisis. The delegation expressed concern over the Philippines’ human rights record under the previous government and expressed hope that President Marcos Jr. would set a new tone on the importance of human rights and press freedom.
“The United States remains a staunch treaty ally of the Philippines, and our people-to-people ties are unparalleled.” Senator Markey said. “I am delighted to be leading the first U.S. Congressional delegation to meet with President Marcos Jr. and look forward to the promise of new partnerships with the newly elected government. I conveyed my hope to turn the page on human rights violations.”
Senator Markey and his colleagues later met with participants from the Arin Tindera Network, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Clean Cities, Blue Ocean Initiative. Aling Tindera provides a flow of funds to local women-owned stores that act as collection points for used plastic waste, thereby diverting plastic waste from the environment.
The delegation also met with Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo and Attorney General Jesús Crispin Lemura. At these meetings, delegations discussed a range of issues, including cooperation on renewable energy, US support for human rights, press freedom, LGBTQIA+ rights, and regional security issues, including the South China Sea.
The delegation rapperis a media outlet founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa to hear about the Philippine government’s campaign to shut down Rappler and discuss press freedom and human rights. The Philippines is her one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.
“The courage of the Filipino press to speak truth to power inspires us. A free and independent press is the foundation of any democracy.” Senator Markey said.
On Friday, the delegation capped off the trip by visiting former Senator Leila de Lima, who is in jail on politically motivated charges.
Senator Markey continued, “For too long Senator Leila de Lima has been held on politically motivated charges. I urge you to drop all charges without delay.”